You don’t want to be the first person to the party, but it’s no good to be incredibly late, either. Amazon is arriving to the cloud gaming party fashionably late–just like this post–with its cloud gaming service, Luna, announced just before the weekend. Amazon’s service stands apart from Google Stadia and other services in few crucial ways.
There’s a (web-based) app for that
Luna will support gameplay on compatible Fire TV, PC, and Mac devices. It’ll also appear on iOS, too, by dodging around Apple’s restrictive requirements around cloud gaming apps. Instead of acting as a downloadable app that you’ll run on your phone, Luna will be a Progressive Web App–an appified website. You’ll be able to add a shortcut to it on your home screen and use it like a regular app. Apple even condones this in its updated rules as noted by The Verge. Apple explains in its rules that game apps have to adhere to all App Store guidelines, but adds that developers can use “the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.” As they also note, it’s surprising that Microsoft and other publishers have not yet taken advantage of this.
One Low Price
The other crucial difference is the pricing structure. Like Microsoft with its Game Pass app, Amazon is going the one-price-to-rule-them-all route. For $5.99 US per month (that’s early access pricing, expect it to climb), Luna+ supports gameplay on two devices at up to 1080p and 60 FPS (4K will come later, Amazon says). For that single price, you’ll be given access to a variety of games across genres and publishers. Games like Control, Metro Exodus, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Resident Evil 7 appear in the official images for the service.
Ubisoft is launching its own Luna channel, which it says will feature “Ultimate” editions, with DLC, on select titles, but limits play to one device at a time. It appears Ubisoft’s channel will have a fee separate from the Luna+ fee. This is similar to the way Amazon lets you access premium channels like HBO and Starz through your Amazon account with service-specific subscription fees.
And Publishers Love It, Too
All of this lets Amazon both get a one-up on Stadia by offering subscription-based pricing instead of per-game. It also lets Amazon peddle its service to publishers like Ubisoft, of course, but also any publisher that has a big game library. EA recently announced that Xbox Game Pass users would be able to access its EA Play subscription service on PC, but Amazon’s service would let the company charge users directly for its own streaming service. This also gives an easy one-price way to let publishers join in on game streaming in a much more appealing way than Nvidia’s GeForce Now service’s remote-emulate-every-game method (which didn’t work out too well). The standout features of Luna+ set it up to compete most directly with Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming, which offers unlimited play of all Game Pass games as part of the monthly Game Pass fee.
Luna supports play with an Xbox One or DualShock 4 controller, keyboard and mouse, or the official Luna controller. The controller features the same offset stick layout as the Xbox controller, and features Alexa and Twitch integration.
Luna is available in early access right now, and you can sign up to get a chance at joining in.